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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Walk 59 Filey to Scarborough

Walk 59 Filey to Scarborough (Yorks)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: L/R 101
Distance: about 10 miles
Difficulty: Moderate. Energetic cliff walking.
Terrain: mainly cliff paths, some pavements
Access: parking at both ends
Public transport: good train and bus services at both ends

Re-join the coastal path at Filey. The path continues to Filey Brigg to the north of the town. This finger of gritstone projects one mile into the sea and protects the beaches at Filey. According to local legend it was the beginning of a bridge that the devil planned to build so that Yorkshire could be joined to Europe. A Roman signal station once stood near here to help keep out the Picts coming down from Scotland.

On the land near Filey Brigg is a white jagged pole. It is a copy erected by a local community group in 2001 and commemorates the many similar ‘rocket poles’ which were once placed along the Yorkshire coast. These were used to simulate rescues from stricken cargo ships. The Filey Volunteer Life Saving Rocket Company was formed in 1872 and they practised techniques such as firing a rescue line from the pole. They practised this until 1964 – it is not clear to me whether their skills were ever used for a rescue.

The path passes some interesting collections of rocks before Cayton Bay. The cliff formations here are dramatic but care needs to be taken on the sands as there is a risk of getting stranded. The walk continues along to the South Bay of Scarborough, England’s first holiday resort. The most striking landmark is The Grand Hotel, a Grade 2 listed building. It was built in 1867 and is in the shape of a ‘V’ in honour of Queen Victoria. The hotel represents the calendar year: the four corner towers represent the four seasons, the twelve floors the months, fifty two chimneys the weeks and three hundred and sixty five rooms the days. If you get a chance, pop into the entrance to look at the impressive staircase. A plaque on the side of the building marks the death here of Anne Bronte in 1849. There is also a memorial stone in the churchyard near the castle. It was for medicinal reasons that the town originally expanded. The properties of the spa here were expounded as early as the 1620s when water from a local stream was described ‘as a most sovereign remedy against melancholy and windiness’.

The area around south bay has the feel of a typical British seaside resort including a ‘fair’ type amusement park. Cafes, fish and chip shops abound including one with the interesting name of Winking Willy’s. The harbour is worth a stroll around. Marine Drive sweeps from the south bay to the North Bay. It was a venue for many events when it was built in 1908.

The Norman castle which has dominated the town for more than 800 years stands on the headland between the north and south bays. Although it has been besieged six times the castle has never been taken by military force. The worst damage was caused by the Roundheads in the English Civil War and by German bombing in World War 1.

Photos show: Scarborough Castle, Scarborough South Bay including The Grand Hotel, Filey Brigg and a feature in the clifftop gardens at Filey.

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